Chinese tech giant Baidu has shut down the Japanese search engine that it first launched in 2007. The Baidu.jp site, which used to feature a Japanese-language search engine that hoped to rival Google and Yahoo in the country, now just features a mission statement and a bunch of email addresses for its business partners to reach out to.
A Baidu spokesperson confirmed today to Tech in Asia that the Baidu Japan search engine is now shut. "But that doesn't preclude the possibility that we will bring it back one day, or introduce our search technology services through other platforms in Japan," he added.
一名百度的发言人向Tech in Asia确认，百度日本的搜索引擎已被关闭。他还补充：“但这并不代表我们不会在未来某天重开百度日本搜索引擎，或是将我们的搜索技术用在日本的其它平台上。”
Despite this setback, Baidu is keeping open its Japan office and pursuing its popular Simeiji app, which is a keyboard for iOS and Android for typing Japanese.
"This was a business decision based largely on Baidu's company-wide effort to focus our energies on becoming a fully mobile-first company," said the Baidu spokesperson. "This means increasing our commitment to mobile and O2O when and where it's most appropriate. In the Japanese market specifically, this move makes a lot of business sense. Smartphone penetration in Japan is now over 70 percent, and it’s a largely iOS-dominated market – over 60 percent market share as of December 2014. Our iOS input app Simeji is very popular, with over 14 million users and and a top-ranking position on Apple's App Store in Japan. That's just one example of the mobile potential of the Japanese market."
Though Baidu Japan opened in 2007, it required a relaunch in 2008 after a shaky start. Yahoo Japan is the nation's top search engine, followed by Google.